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Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00080

Positive effects of mindfulness-based training on energy maintenance and the EEG correlates of sustained attention in a cohort of nurses

  • 1Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders, Duke Medical School, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • 2Neurology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore

Mindfulness based training (MBT) is becoming increasingly popular as a means to improve general wellbeing through developing enhanced control over metacognitive processes. In this preliminary study, we tested a cohort of 36 nurses (mean age = 30.3, S.D. = 8.52; 2 male) who participated in an 8-week MBT intervention to examine the improvements in sustained attention and its energetic costs that may result from MBT. Changes in sustained attention were measured using the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) and electroencephalography (EEG) was collected both during PVT performance, and during a brief period of meditation. As there was substantial variability in training attendance, this variable was used a covariate in all analyses. Following the MBT program, we observed changes in alpha power across all scalp regions during meditation that were correlated with attendance. Similarly, PVT performance worsened over the 8-week period, but that this decline was mitigated by good attendance on the MBT program. The subjective energy depletion due to PVT performance (measured using self-report on Likert-type scales) was also less in regular attendees. Finally, changes in known EEG markers of attention during PVT performance (P300 and alpha-band event-related desynchronisation) paralleled these behavioral shifts. Taken together, our data suggest that sustained attention and its associated costs may be negatively affected over time in the nursing profession, but that regular attendance of MBT may help to attenuate these effects. However, as this study contained no control condition, we cannot rule out that other factors (e.g. motivation, placebo effects) may also account for our findings.

Keywords: mindfulness-based training, sustained attention, psychomotor vigilance test, P300, Event-Related Desynchronization, Nurses

Received: 20 Jun 2017; Accepted: 14 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Nandini C. Singh, National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), India

Reviewed by:

Dan Zhang, Tsinghua University, China
Herman N. Logemann, Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary  

Copyright: © 2018 Wong, Teng, Chee, Doshi and Lim. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Julian Lim, Duke Medical School, National University of Singapore, Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders, Singapore, Singapore,